By Jeremy McDonald
COOS BAY, Ore.– All year Head Coach Calvin Molan has preached Brotherhood and Defense. Taking things one game at a time. And did it ever pay off on the final day of the 2022 season.
“All year we’ve been preaching that the next one is the most important one…and hopefully at the end we’ll be in the last game because it’s the next one and it’s the last one and we are,” Molan said. “I’m extremely proud. We’ve been talking about defense wins Championships, but we try to use our defense to create offense and the boys bought in from Day 1. They’ve picked it up and ran with it and I couldn’t be more proud.”
The last game of the season was the 4A State Championship Game. Them, the Cougars, as the second seed and in front of them were the top-seed in Junction City. The Tigers jumped out to a 12-11 lead after the first quarter before the Cascade defense pitched a shutout, handing the Cougs a 18-12 halftime lead.
Junction City quickly responded.
A 9-2 run had the Tigers ahead before Cascade settled back down, holding Junction City to those nine third quarter points. Despite being down 21-20 with 4:53 left in the third quarter the Cougars finished the quarter on a 8-0 run. Turning to their defensive strength to help them to get back ahead.
“I mean we held them to zero points in the second quarter, defense was the deciding factor in this game,” Ty Best. “I’m confident in my team and my defense this whole season.”
Best and Dom Ball combined for 13 of Cascade’s 23 rebounds. But their defense forced 18 turnovers with 13 steals. Spencer Horne led the steals catorgory with four as after surrendering those 12 first quarter points, the defense went zero, nine and nine down the stretch. Outscoring Junction City 31-18 over the course of the final three quarters.
“We came out with our 3-2, which I think is one our best defenses and we showed it tonight,” Kellen Sande said. “We went on a run and got it done. It feels good. After last year all we wanted was this. This feeling…it feels unreal,”
Sande was part of the 4A Cumulative Week State Finalist in 2021, finishing second to Marshfield. But this year, the Cougars got it done.
No second-place trophy or watching the celebrations. Maybe it was third-times the charm as they were in the State Championship game back in 2013.
But they finished the job, making sure they are adding another banner in their gym and are bringing home the first State Championship Boys Basketball Trophy back to Turner since 1974.
“It feels great, it’s been almost 50 years and last year we can close. This year, with things lifted with Covid and OSAA and everything…it was an awesome tournament. It’s been awesome to bring one back up to our gym and hang a banner again,” Molan said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald